Newcomers in Canada have most of their goals and dreams tied to three essential pillars — life, career, and finance. In our article, Coping with Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions as a newcomer in Canada, we shared some tips and advice to guide you during this uncertain time.
For those who have recently landed, some of you may be starting off on your job search journey, while others may have just begun their first job in Canada. Finding employment is an important aspect of settling-in. But in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, this is likely to be a bigger challenge than in normal times. Some of you may feel anxious about your job prospects given that businesses in some industries (such as retail, food and hospitality industries) have temporarily closed down.
If you’re in the market to find a career opportunity, here’s what you can do to stay motivated, informed and make fact-based decisions:
Information is power: Crunch some numbers, track the job market
Canada’s job bank website has some excellent reports and trends for every occupation. You can even filter it by province or city to get a more precise and clear overview of the job market outlook and hiring trends. This information can be very helpful in understanding the in-demand jobs and skills for each city, thereby enabling you to make informed decisions.
Refine your job skills and be prepared for the opportunity
An effective way to utilize your time while you stay home is to work on your job skills so that when the opportunity presents itself, you’re well-equipped to make the most of it. You can work on your resume and cover letter and edit it as per the Canadian format, work on building your personal brand, practice your elevator pitch and improve your interview skills.
As a job seeker, there’s so much to do and stay busy. If you weren’t already aware, professional networking which involves coffee chats is core to Canadian work culture. In light of the COVID-19 situation, most coffee shops are closed and networking events have been cancelled. But don’t let that stop you from networking. Thanks to technology, you can continue to reach out to people online, connect via video calls and even try a virtual coffee!
For those who are employed, depending on the nature of your job, and in accordance with the protocol for social distancing, some of you may be working from home. Others may not have an option and maybe torn between following recommendations of social distancing and the necessity of working to meet the cost of living.
Therefore, it’s essential to understand the government measures and benefits put in place to help individuals like yourself:
Learn all about Employment Insurance (EI)
Employment Insurance (EI) provides regular benefits to individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own (for example, due to a shortage of work, seasonal or mass lay-offs) and are available for and able to work, but can’t find a job.
Specifically, for the COVID-19 outbreak, EI sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. More details and steps to be followed to claim EI are available on the government of Canada website.
Stay up-to-date on the government’s economic response plan
The Federal and Provincial governments are taking active steps to manage the pandemic while also providing support to employees and businesses. Prime Minister Trudeau announced an economic aid package to support individual Canadians and businesses affected by COVID-19. The package includes $27 billion for an emergency aid package that offers immediate and direct help to individual Canadians and businesses and $55 billion in tax deferrals.
Some of the items included in the $27 billion aid package are:
- $900 biweekly payments for 15 weeks; those who do not have employment insurance or paid sick leave will receive money from the government.
- Small-business owners to receive a temporary wage subsidy from Ottawa that will be equal to 10 per cent of salary paid to employees for a period of three months.
- Individuals will have until June 1 to file taxes; payment can be deferred until August 31.
- A six-month moratorium for student loan repayments.
- The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will be temporarily increased to $300, with $150 for every child.
- $5 billion emergency support benefit through the CRA for support workers who are facing unemployment as well as an additional amount for low-income people through the GST credit.
While we’re all trying to cope with the current circumstances in ways that work best for us and our families, we must remember to take precautionary measures and adhere to the guidelines by local health authorities and the government. We can get through this by working together, as one community, by helping one another and being kind — just the way Canadians are known to be.